Hot desking hazards

I’m all for hot desking. It’s a great concept and I don’t need to have any sense of ownership of my desk space. Just give me a Diet Coke and a keyboard and I’m away. It usually works very well. Except if you are hot desking in an office where other people are not because these days some people have all sorts of extra ergonomic stuff on their desks. I totally understand the dangers of RSI. I know people who have really suffered with it, but it makes hot desking something of a hazard. The other day I was all ready to whizz through some work, but the only desk free had an ergonomic keyboard. It was kind of slopey like a small volcano with a dip in the middle. Not only that, but the mouse was a squeezy thing rather than a clicky thing and even when you squeezed it nothing happened. It would probably require at least a week to get up to speed on the whole thing. When you hot desk you don’t have a week. You want to get your work done NOW.

I admit that, despite my understanding of the need for eg bouncy balls for sitting on and the like, I have had bad experiences in the past with ergonomics so might be slightly prejudiced against them. A past boss had an ergonomic keyboard and stress balls. Said past boss always came in late, spent most of the day on what I will loosely describe as office politics and picking out the commas my colleague and I had missed doing the early morning news round-up at 7.30am [she came in around 10.30]. I found it difficult even to say hello to her in the mornings and fantasised about throwing the stress balls at her head. So I do admit to having a certain degree of form with ergonomics…

So I huffed and I puffed around the volcano keyboard, complaining about how slow it was. I anticipated a wave of sympathy from my colleagues. Nada. In the end I had to find another office with a “proper” keyboard. It didn’t help that daughter one, who was on work experience in the same office, was overhearing the whole saga. “Oh mum. You think you’re so funny with your stressing, but no-one even paid any attention to you,” she said pityingly.

Sometimes I feel my children are more grown up than I am. The other day, for instance, after waking up at 5am to announce that now that he is five he can eat chewing gum, only son said the following: “Wait for me to go downstairs, mum. Marcel doesn’t wait for me at lunchtime and he’s my best friend. He just runs away. I think it is because he doesn’t listen to reason.” Not like only son, who is a big five and all about listening to reason.

I also had a slightly dicey situation with daughter two who I fear is going to be my nemesis when she gets into the teen years. She wanted to go out for only son’s birthday and when I said we were all a bit tired [and broke] and that daughter one wouldn’t get home from work experience till 7pm she announced that this was “the worst birthday EVER”, despite it not being hers. Only son got slightly concerned. “Is it the worst birthday ever, mum?” he asked. I told daughter two to go to her room and sulk and she just sat there like a thunder cloud. I then threatened her with not getting my phone when it is upgraded. She moved slowly towards the door. Later in the evening she decided to wash her hair – at 9.20pm. I got slightly vexed and she retired to bed, upset. When I was in the bath, feeling a bit guilty, a note came under the door. It was from daughter three, telling me I was a great mum and asking for apple and raspberry juice in the supermarket delivery. Two minutes later another note came through from daughter two. “Dear mummy, I feel really bad for being misrable [note spelling mistake] for only son’s birthday. I’m really sorry and it is okay and you just need a break. I love you.” You see what I mean. Much more grown-up and understanding than me.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

Comments [1]

  • archivist10 says:

    The fingers on my right hand have not bent properly since January- I’ve variously blamed piano practice, yoga and typing. Then 10 days ago I was suddenly struck down with pneumonia- off work, defiitely no typing, and my fingers work again! So it must be RSI from work- the only thing I hadn’t been able to eliminate before the pneumonia struck. It’s because I only use my middle fingers to type. Daughters say I must learn to touch type- but I don’t have time, like you and your ergonomic mouse!

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